Human Stem Cells Can be Used to Repair Tissues Damaged by Heart Attack
Researchers at University of
Cambridge have developed a method to repair the damage caused to tissues as a
result of heart attack. The team led by Dr Sanjay Sinha of University of
Cambridge and researchers at University of Washington, have used supportive
epicardial cells developed from human stem cells to help transplanted heart
cells live longer.
The researchers used 3D human heart tissue grown in the lab from human stem cells to test the cell combination, finding that the supportive epicardial cells helped heart muscle cells to grow and mature. They also improved the heart muscle cell’s ability to contract and relax. In rats with damaged hearts, the combination also allowed the transplanted cells to survive and restore lost heart muscle and blood vessel cells.
Researchers now hope to understand how the supportive epicardial cells help to drive heart regeneration. Understanding these key details will bring them one step closer to testing heart regenerative therapies in clinical trials. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are living with debilitating heart failure, often as a result of a heart attack. During a heart attack, part of the heart is deprived of oxygen leading to death of heart muscle. This permanent loss of heart muscle as well as subsequent scarring combines to reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.
People suffering from heart failure can’t regenerate their damaged hearts and the only cure is a heart transplant. Ultimately, these researchers hope that, by harnessing the regenerative power of stem cells, they will one day be able to heal human hearts using a patient’s own cells.